In April, when the White House released its American Families Plan, President Biden made strong strides toward supporting infants, toddlers, families, and our economy by calling for historic investments in child care, pre-K, and child nutrition; a paid family and medical leave program; and a permanently expanded Child Care and Development Tax Credit.
On August 11, the Senate approved a budget resolution that also makes strong strides by including significant investments in child care and early learning; introducing a paid family and medical leave program for all Americans; and continuing the enhanced Child Tax Credit.
Now, a reconciliation bill will make its way through Congress and (hopefully) to the floors of the House and Senate this year.
At the NC Early Childhood Foundation, we promote understanding, spearhead collaboration, and advance policies that are known to support optimal health and education for every NC child in the context of their families and communities. While we take a stance of political nonpartisanship, we actively speak to support policies that support children and families.
The American Families Plan and the Senate-approved budget is what our country needs right now to ensure our children and their families are supported during a critical period of brain development for children, ensuring children have a strong foundation and we all have a brighter future. Executive Director Muffy Grant states:
“We are closer than ever before to ensuring every child and family in North Carolina and across the country have what they need to build a strong, healthy future.
Families—especially Black, Indigenous, and families of color—were struggling long before the COVID-19 pandemic to access and pay for high-quality child care; to take time off work to care for their families; to afford their family’s medical expenses; and to join or stay in the workforce. Not only have these struggles affected parents and caregivers, but they’ve had a significant and profound impact on children during a critical window of their development—from zero through age eight—and on our state and national economy.
The pandemic exposed these long-standing barriers and continues to make these challenges worse. In North Carolina, 44 percent of families already lived in a child care desert, and our state’s child care crisis cost $2.4 billion each year. By December, that number had grown to $2.9 billion and is likely still growing, as one in five child care centers in NC are at risk of closing by October if they don’t receive financial support.
We are at a tipping point. Now is the time to take action to support families and children. The significant investments and reforms proposed by the American Families Plan and the current Senate budget are necessary to build an early learning system and a support system that works for all children and families.
Congress—including North Carolina’s Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis and our leaders in the House—must include and pass significant, sustained funding in the upcoming budget reconciliation package to address the systemic problems facing our child care and early learning systems. They must include and pass investments in families, like paid family and medical leave and the extended Child Tax Credit.
Both Republican and Democratic voters overwhelmingly support a wide range of federal early learning and care policy proposals, according to national polling from the First Five Years Fund. This includes support for increased federal funding for child care, expanded access to preschool, and child care tax credits for working parents. Voters from both parties also overwhelmingly support paid family and medical leave.
It’s a win-win-win-win. A win for children and families. A political win. A win for our economy. And a win for our future.”